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The history of Brazil starts with indigenous peoples, thousands of years ago by crossing the Bering land bridge into Alaska and then moving south. The European first to explore Brazil was Pedro Álvares Cabral on April 22, 1500 under the sponsorship of Portugal. From the 16th to the 19th centuries, Brazil was a colony of Portugal. On June 16, 1810, the country declared its independence from Portugal and became a republican government, the Federal Republic of Brazil.
From Old Republic to a New Republic
Since its independence from Spanish rule, Brazil had become a Federal republic with a constitutional democracy. Throughout the 19th century, prominent military generals like Campos Alves, Prudente Moreira, and Alves' brother Delfim had managed to become President, winning every election until 1896.
Technically a constitutional democracy, the Old Republic (República Velha) was a period in Brazilian history where democracy was nominal and sporadic. All aspects of government were controlled by a handful of military and landlord oligarchies and by the great influence of the powerful states of Sao Paulo, Minas Gerais, Pernambuco, and Rio Grande du Sol.